The Good Sophisticated, compact design; solid sound quality and nice EQ options; excellent FM and voice recording; photo-friendly color screen; supports Windows Media DRM 10.
The Bad Controls aren't as intuitive as those on the iPod; power adapter requires a USB dongle; line-in recording requires an optional cradle that's not available yet; no album art support; can't act as a USB host for PC-less transfer of photos; battery is not swappable, as with the 5GB and 6GB H10.
The Bottom Line The H10 includes nearly every coveted feature, but navigating the player controls can be frustrating.
iRiver H10 (20GB)
The 20GB iRiver H10
The 5GB iRiver H10 was the first microdrive player from iRiver to be widely available, and its success has prompted the release of an identical 6GB version, plus the miniature 1GB and the jumbo 20GB models (see the iRiver H10 family). When you're comparing the 20GB iRiver H10 to the original 5GB version, you're mostly just looking at the difference in size. The 20GB iRiver H10 outclasses most of the high-capacity competition in the features department, with a built-in FM tuner, a voice recorder, and a photo-friendly color screen. Plus, it's compatible with Janus--yes, it is PlaysForSure enabled--out of the box. However, its controls aren't as intuitive as they seem, and unlike the H320, which is the player that the H10 will replace, it can't record line-in audio without an optional cradle, which has yet to be released. The 20GB iRiver H10 is a bit larger than the original 5GB H10--4.0 by 2.4 by 0.8 inches and 5.8 ounces vs. 3.7 by 2.1 by 0.6 inches and 3.4 ounces--but it's only slightly thicker and actually lighter than the 20GB iPod. The player is available in four muted and elegant colors: Triple Platinum Silver, Remix Blue, Lounge Gray, and yes, Trance Red. The company is known for creating polished products that emphasize features and performance over style, but looking past the H10's chintzy buttons, this unit actually has little g-factor going for it, in addition to having Jenna Jameson and other porn stars vouching for it.
The bright 1.8-inch, square color LCD gives the iRiver H10 some presence, and the revamped iRiver interface has color-coded player modes that zip by when you use the touch strip. The main menu options include Music, FM Radio, Recordings (voice and line-in), Photo, Text, Browser (browse any type of file), and Settings. The primary music option uses the file ID3 tags to break down your library by artist, album, genre, title, and playlist, as opposed to the folder-based categorization seen in previous iRiver products. Each of these options also allows you to play all tracks in a specific folder. Onscreen, you'll get information such as the artist, the filename, battery life, play time, total play time, the file type, play mode, a progress meter, the current/total file number, and even a clock. There's a lot of info, but it's clear and easy to read. What we would like to see is support for album art, particularly since the H10 is so music store/service-friendly.